Sprout’s first visit to the hospital

Baby’s First Hospital Visit in Brussels

Sprout 1 on the day he turned 4 months, before surgery

Today I’m over at CheeseWeb talking about Sprout 1’s first visit to the Emergency Room and first (and only so far) hospital stay. Here’s an excerpt:

The first time this happened to us was almost 4 years ago, but I can still remember it clearly. 3am, my little almost 4 month old Sprout couldn’t settle himself to sleep, his tired eyes looking up at me, unable to nurse, constantly vomiting. We weren’t sure what was going on, but knew he had a hernia that could become blocked and require urgent surgery. After debating for a short while if we really should take him out into the cold August night (this is Belgium – August nights can be cold) to the emergency room, or wait until morning and call his paediatrician, we bundled him up and headed to Cliniques Universitaires St-Luc.

Click through to read the rest.

 

 

In and Around Brussels with Kids: Haricot Magique

In and Around Brussels with Kids: Haricot Magique

Haricot Magique in Schaerbeek

Sometimes you just want to get out with friends and the littles and find the offerings are really quite limited when it comes to places where you can go and have a chat with your adult friends, without worrying about your kids being – well, KIDS! Enter Haricot Magique…

In and Around Brussels with Kids: Haricot Magique

Laurent and Audrey, the friendly faces at Haricot Magique

Haricot Magique is the first Stroller Café (Café Poussette) in Brussels. Born out of frustration in feeling unwelcome at certain cafés in town, The Haricot Magique (magic bean) team brought the growing European trend to Schaerbeek in Brussels.

I’ve personally had a hard time in many cafés and restaurants finding a place to change the baby Sprouts other than on top of the toillet (not nice at all with a newborn – yuck!). And while most places do welcome children with open(ish) arms, most do expect you to keep them “sage” (literally means wise, which I guess they better be if they don’t want to get into trouble!) and I’ve even had sideways glances and sighs from staff upon seeing us enter with kids in tow.

In and Around Brussles with Kids: Haricot Magique

Here, however, you can have a light snack and coffee (or tea, etc) with your friends AND  include the kids as well. They have baby food for the very little ones, and a range of high chairs to suit first sitters as well as sitting pros that just need the extra height to comfortably reach the table. They even have bibs and cutlery for small hands, so no need to bring anything from home. Oh, and most products are Fair Trade and/or Organic – a definite plus in my book.

In and Around Brussels with Kids: Haricot Magique

There is also a little boutique with high-quality children’s ware, from creative kits to bento-boxes, clothes, toys and more (you can have a glimpse in the second picture above).

In and Around Brussles with Kids: Haricot Magique

But, hands down, their best feature is a children’s area in the back stocked with toys, mats, books and a table and chairs, where the small ones can hang out while their adults enjoy their snack at the tables. The only con is the current lack of visibility, but the owners have let me know they have plans to install a concave mirror in the near future to improve visibility.

In and Around Brussels with Kids: Haricot Magique

Live music

The place is usually bustling on Wednesday afternoons and weekends, and there is lots to do as well. On their website you can find a calendar with activities, ranging from baby massage to live music. If you want some calm, then I do suggest weekdays, especially mornings.

Both my children love coming here, and so do I. Oh, and they speak English as well, if French isn’t your thing 😉

Haricot Magique
Avenue Louis Bertrand 22,
1030 Bruxelles
www.haricotmagique.be

In and Around Brussels with kids: Technopolis

Spring is definitely in the air, which for most families means more time spent outside. Hurrah! However, there are still many rainy days to come  – we are in Brussels after all! It’s always nice to have an indoor alternative for those rainy days when you don’t want to be stuck at home, but don’t want to venture outside either.

In and around Brussels with kids: technopolis

Technopolis

Technopolis is one of 3yo Sprout’s favourite spots for a day out. It’s just outside Brussels, in Mechelen, only a 20 minute drive. It is a truly hands-on science centre which caters to just about any age group.

Inside the big complex (which is currently undergoing expansion) you can find The Children’s Science Centre (TCSC), advertised as being for ages 4-8 – but don’t let this put you off if you have younger children. I would say your average 2yo would get a kick out of it, as would their parents.

In and around Brussels with kids: technopolis

Construction site

Inside TCSC you find an entire town, with a working crane to build a house, an ambulance with working sirens, a vegetable patch, a pizzeria, a garage and a bank where you can even print your own money with your picture on the bills!

In and around Brussels with kids: technopolis

Pizzeria

The best part? This area is closed to visitors without small children and the button to open the doors from the inside is out of children’s reach, meaning they are in a safe, age-appropriate area where they can wander freely without the fear of getting lost.

In and around Brussels with kids: technopolis

Garage

Within the area there is also an adapted restroom with little toilets and sinks (along with the bigger ones), and a changing table. If you would like to stay for lunch, there is a small cafeteria with healthy-ish kids’ meals (currently undergoing work, so check before you go).

Technopolis 4

And of course, don’t forget to have a look at the rest of the centre; one of my son’s favourite attractions is the water elephant near the cafeteria (very handy if you’re still eating and they are done, or you’re busy feeding a smaller one. Even my 8mo baby had a blast the last time we were there!

In and around Brussels with kids: technopolis

Baby water play

It can get pricey though, and if you plan on going back, I definitely recommend getting an annual subscription. It also comes with additional discounts and perks, such as a free entrance to the Boudewijn Seapark in Brugge.

The best time to go? I would definitely say school holidays and weekends since it can get pretty packed with school visits on school days.

Don’t forget to vote for your favourite book for the read-along! We’re at a tie at the moment and I’m looking forward to announcing the winner this weekend!

A Fair Holiday Season

The holidays are right around the corner and, for better or worse, that usually means shopping for presents. Have you bought all your presents yet? I haven’t… despite good intentions of having everything sorted by the end of November, the procrastinator in me got the best (well, that and my 2 young’uns) and I still have a way to go.

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Anyone who knows me most likely knows how passionate I am about Fair Trade and Organic products. In fact, before becoming a stay at home mom, I was working for a Fair Trade non-profit organisation. Now, I’m not going to go into all the details about Fair Trade here, and I will not lecture you, but how cool would it be if you made a difference through your purchases this holiday season? How wonderful would it be if you not only bought excellent quality products, but also helped ensure those producing them were doing so under fair labour conditions and without resorting to modern slavery (see here, here, here, here and here) to produce them ?

You may be familiar with the Fairtrade label on food products in supermarkets (think coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas – these are the main food products), but did you know you could also buy these at Fair Trade shops, known as World Shops? Did you know there are also Fair Trade handicrafts? And may I add that they are beautiful? Really, they are perfect for gift-giving!

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Lots for the kids! My sons love the real traditional music instruments we’ve bought here. Much better price than big brand children’s toy instruments too.

Some of you may think, well, I already buy Fair Trade products at the supermarket, I’m doing my part. But let me just tell you why it’s also important to buy from these shops: the people doing the work, getting the message out, many (if not most) times donating their time and ability to promote Fair Trade. A supermarket is anonymous, a Fair Trade shop is not. These are mostly small, relying heavily on volunteers.

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All about the people…

I went out to my local Fair Trade shop – an Oxfam World Shop in Schaerbeek – to do some shopping and buy some presents – handicrafts and chocolates mostly – and took some pictures to show you.

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Shop front – they also have a second-hand shop attached

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Yummy! Fairtrade Noussines and Pralines

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Chocolates for the little ones. This is where I bought our chocolate St. Nicholas for Sprout and some friends. A real bargain, and so much better too.

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Beautiful handicrafts

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Colourful scarves

This is just a sample, really. There are many more in and around Brussels, not only Oxfam, but many others. Some even have a small resto/coffee shop where you could try their products (like here).

You can find quite a list of retailers at the Trade For Development website. And this is just Belgium. You can find Fair Trade products in just about any said developed (and many developing) country.

In a time of gift-giving, will your gifts be Fair?